Friday, July 25, 2014

Post Workplace Affirmations: The Value of Affirmations in Recovery

I am going through a period of intense exhaustion these days.  Whether it's from doing too much, pressing the envelope too far, or other factors, I don't know.  I just know that it's all I can do to get up in the morning, get dressed and then attempt to be consistent in this blog.  So far, being consistent is winning; getting dressed is losing.

Yet, I feel that it is good to be consistent.  To write daily as I've started this blog as a daily blog five days a week.  I feel that there are people who like to read the daily updates on this blog.

I'm still not 100% sure where I'm going.  There is a wealth of information about trauma, PTSD, workplace abuse that I can write about.  To do so would take a very long time.  Just building the underground, the foundation for people to understand as they either walk through these things or attempt to walk alongside someone who is going through these things.

Then there's the dailyness.  The things that happen in any given day which either help - or hinder - me on my road to recovery.

I hadn't quite decided how to approach all these things in one blog, how to include the dailyness while not getting distracted and following rabbit trails along the road to recovery from workplace abuse - specifically my road to recovery post workplace abuse.

Today we go back in time to that period when the staff member from my church came into my house with what I believe are false assumptions and perceptions.  A time when others who didn't even know or have contact with each other, affirmed the very qualities the staff member dismissed.

By the end of 2012, I was sunk in depression.  Along with the ever constant pain both physical from the broken wrist and emotional from the grief of my mom's death and trauma from workplace abuse.  I felt like I was in a deep hole from which I would never emerge.  It was too deep for me to climb out of on my own.

I have what I call a "patchwork" support system.  One person here, another there:  a friend I've known almost three decades, hubby, daughter, daughter's mom-in-love.  Various assorted others who pop up here and there.  Small.  Very small.  It works because we make it work.

But sometimes more is needed, and this period of time in my life and in my recovery was one of those times when I needed the proverbial village to get through.

It came at the tail end of that dismal period in 2012.

It came in the form of unexpected notes and phone calls.

I don't know if I can remember everything but I will try.

The first one came when I received a note from a young mother who I've befriended in the past.  When her daughter was born, I made her a special afghan and brought over a homemade meal (I was still able to cook at that time.)  I received a thank-you note from her.  Imagine my surprise and gratitude at receiving this note of appreciation at that particular time in my life as the "baby" was by then 14 months old!

Let me go back a bit to more than a year prior to the Fall of 2011 when I was still reeling from the impact of the abusive workplace situation.  I was taking a walk with one person who has walked with me through most of the saga from the first episode of workplace abuse onwards.  She probably knows more about me than I know about myself.  We were talking about my confusion about who I was directly after the second episode of workplace abuse as the adversaries in the workplace had successfully launched a petition accusing me of many things including being a major stressor in the office.  Being Christians, we often use portions of the Bible to express things.  This friend quoted a verse about knowing the truth and having the truth set you free.  I think she meant it from the point of view of God showing me the truth about who I am in Him.  I received something a little different.  A different perspective.

I had a really strange dream that night.  The first part of which is irrelevant to this post.  Also too wordy and complicated to recount.  However, towards the end of this dream, young mothers, children and some fathers started appearing.  All with hand made blankets.  Made by me.  One young mother said that she had been pregnant and a stranger in town and I had given her this blanket and it meant so much.  Others had similar affirmations.

I began to realize that the truth was that I had a lot of value.  That I was a very giving person and that people appreciated it.

Then, I received a phone call from my daughter telling me she'd run into a woman neither of us had seen in a few years.  A single mother of four whom I had supported during a time of extreme neediness and turmoil in her life by providing food.  Almost single-handedly I provided groceries for that woman and her growing children for the better part of a year.  She still remembered with thankfulness.

The weekend after the disastrous meeting with the staff member from my church when I was still reeling from the impact of the words said, I received a phone call from my niece.  Because of an autoimmune disease, she was told it was not in her best interests to have children, so she and her husband started the adoption process years before eventually being successful in the adoption process.  While they were still in the process, when no baby was on their horizon, I took out my trusty, dusty crochet hook and started to make one of my favorite patterns.  One reserved for special people as it's very time consuming to make.  It has a border of puffed hearts around it.  As I crocheted it, I prayed for the child who would eventually be enfolded in it.  I got a sense that the child I was praying for had not yet been conceived and that the birth mom would be a teenager.  I also felt the baby would be a boy.  On that last I was wrong.  

I gave that blanket to my niece for Christmas that year even though it was kind of strange as no baby was yet on the horizon.  But she understood.  Her phone call was to tell me that her daughter who was by then six years old had found the blanket and asked her mom about it.  My niece replied that Aunty Cassie had made it before she was ever born and prayed for her when she was making it.  To that, my little great-niece matter-of-factly replied:  "Oh, so that's why I'm here."

Out of the mouths of babies, eh?

I kept in communication with a man I've known for years who had just found out that his mom had terminal cancer and was having trouble dealing with his new reality.  I sent him the prayer afghan I had started to make when my own mom was dying and which was originally intended for her.  He let me know in these calls how much that simple act of caring meant to him.  How he found comfort in it.

It was these affirmations that gave me a handle to hold on to at a very dark time in my recovery period.

Ironically, it was these affirmations that came flooding in at the same time the staff member from church came to tell me how worthless - or worth less - I was and that the things I did for people under the radar - the caring, the concern, the hand made gifts some of which took quite a while and cost quite a lot to make, the on-going prayer - were worthless.  They didn't count; therefore, I didn't count.

In her mindset given the perceptions and assumptions she came into my house with, I didn't qualify for help, for outreach from the church.

In retrospect though, I have to ask the question which perspective, which set of perceptions and assumptions, was correct?

I know what my answer to that is.  What is yours?

My mom on her last birthday wearing the shawl I had made for her during that sweltering heat wave.  The niece I had made the diamond bordered special afghan for before she was ever conceived.

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